Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Normalism

The Christmas season is more or less managed the Middle Way ... from childhood conditioning with the magic of Santa, an old white man with a long white beard, bearing an astonishing resemblance to artist's depictions of God, albeit without the red suit ... and reindeer ... anyway, it must have resonated with plenty of disappointed children, discovering the well meant deception over Santa and leaping into atheism as a result ... maybe ... rejection of Christmas, along with Christianity and the enforced jollity and conspicuous consumption meant various alternative arrangements to avoid it, including working instead, often at premium rates ... on the buses, if memory serves correctly, it was double time plus a day in lieu for a short shift and folks with family often eager to swap shifts ... then there was a trip to the Theravadan Monastery on a snowy day, somehow driving along slippery back roads to arrive and enjoy the tranquillity ... and now integrating the "normal" Christmas Day by helping with the Community Christmas Lunch in the local Church Hall, much appreciated by folks dreading spending the day alone ... not to mention those keen to escape toxic relations ...

The theme of normalism arises during the extended wander on Boxing Day ... body mind noting  the distance around hour three, picking up again at hour four and speeding home for a wonderful expedition along the top of the south side of the Dale and back along by the river for a late lunch after five glorious hours in the mild and sometimes sunny weather ... normalism as a word which popped up without reference to previous known usage has the advantage of flexibility ... dictionary references are vague, some suggesting the word is obsolete, others offering it as a potential new entry into officially recognised linguistic form ... in Wear and Dao it just stands for a process of lazy assumptions about what is acceptable in a given culture and the insidious shaping of stories emerging to describe current delusions to make the psyche content that what has been, is, and seems likely to continue, is within the realm of civilised behaviour. The related word, Normal, of course, has coercive properties in the conditioning of humans ... and maybe the training of animals and plants tamed to serve our needs above their own too ...

The context for this speculation is the long held awareness that what stands for Normal in the world as observed is often unacceptable to sensitive souls and being coerced to believe it is too often leads to disease, physical, mental and spiritual ... though not necessarily in that order ... perhaps the existential pain from living fragmented in the dystopia sets off the addictive behaviours, leading to self-medication with drugs, prescribed or proscribed, booze, sex, shopping and so on ...

Meanwhile, mind turns to a break from the overlong midwinter festivities, the unfinished sitting room and convivial company seems like a good idea ... local Buddhist monastery offers New Year Retreat, but that infers more silence than required, since that is the default setting ... also the routine is in line with the form of Soto Zen, sleeping arrangements austere, expectation of conforming to the norms ... whereas it's the formless which is sought and the Krishnamurti Centre where it is best experienced in simple comfort, the teachings all available and random K types usually happy to explore the important questions like: What is Truth? Who am I? What time's Lunch? and so on ...

And, since it is Normal at this time to visit family, maybe a trip to the family home to see elder sister and brother in law, plus any assorted nephews who may be about ...

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Messengers ...

Messengers continue to turn up with pieces of the jigsaw ... after some time with Jordan Peterson and his compelling style and interesting insights, attention turned to Alan Wallace with his combination of experience exploring the external world with traditional science and other worlds through deep meditation ... his teaching that Mind cannot reveal its secrets through peering at brains but only by looking inward ... necessarily a subjective view and therefore declared invalid by the often arrogant scientists, still operating under the illusion that observer and observed are separate ... then Gabor Mate' with penetrating insights into root causes of chronic disease ...

Other messengers are less famous of course, and may be found in the least likely places, whilst traditionally revered messengers are called gurus or prophets and attract followers forgetting that, whilst the message and the messenger may not be separate, accepting the message conceptually without embodying it and testing its inherent validity personally, is an error with grave consequences,  elevating the messenger to a status separate from the followers and opening them up to potential abuse, if not from the messenger, then from successors assuming positions of power in hierarchies ... as history clearly shows ...

Meanwhile, local messenger and friend, who taught techniques of Mindfulness and recently launched his second book, called The Enlightened Spaniel, turns up at nearby cafe to sign copies and catch up on events ... you can order your copy through Hive, the ethical alternative to the virtual shop currently taking over the world of retail internationally and powerful enough to avoid taxes and any pretence of concern for the workers in vast warehouses ... our own power, appearing limited, is exercised by avoiding such corporate entities, driven as they are by a relentless search for shareholder profit ...

Starring on social media is a warrior for the planet, Greta Thunberg, a 15 year old Swedish girl, who, having learnt about the consequences of unbridled economic growth and burning of fossil fuels, decided to embody her lessons by going on strike outside the Parliament building, saying it was pointless continuing in school when there soon would be no school, Sweden or Earth if nothing was done ... inspirational and quite unlike the stereotypical teenager in Western democracies ...

On the home front, while solar panels limp along in dismal weather, work on the multi-fuel burner of fossil fuels resumes ... hypocrisy acknowledged ... best not tell Greta since she is very stern and takes no prisoners from the complacent ancient generation responsible for so much of the mess ...

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Polarised politics

A recent and long overdue rebalancing of political power play is noted on social media - the formation of a Progressive International. .. players onstage including Yanis Varoufakis, Jeff Sachs, Bernie Sanders, and Ada Colau ... recognising that in an increasingly interconnected world, where the economic system is almost entirely capitalist, albeit cloaked in deceptive forms as in China, and dominated by multi-national corporations with enormous wealth, enabling the purchase of politicians and the mainstream media to keep us all stupid enough to tolerate gross inequality, ongoing wars and planetary degradation, action on a supranational level is essential ...

Meanwhile, the French are revolting, having swallowed the story that Macron was the lesser of two evils and seen the continuation of the neoliberal programme ... whilst in the USA it went the other way, with the Clinton dynasty rejected in favour of a rabid populist president ... replacing the supposedly civilised Obama, who nevertheless oversaw the widening gap between rich and poor and the ongoing plan to restructure the Middle East, started by Bush the younger, aided and abetted by a Labour Prime Minister in the UK ... media narratives rely on short memories and focus on the desperate plight of millions of refugees fleeing the chaos created by the war crimes of the Western powers ... and the game goes on, with Obama M being prepared for future presidential dynastic succession once the tide of public opinion, quite evenly split between right and so-called left turns again ... Tweedledum and Tweedledee ...

Sunday Telegraph offers rare glimpse of a previously unvisited parallel universe, where actors playing patriotic anti-EU roles are taken seriously ... whilst wavering PM, personally pro and posing as anti succeeds in setting scene for collapse of exit strategy and succession of radical PM, personally anti with a majority of MPs and members pro ... though erstwhile Telegraph journalist and current friend predicts collapse of EU itself ... and he got the referendum result right ...

All of which detracts from spiritual matters, though continued learning from Alan Wallace and others, plus daily early rising, walking the fells and woods and service in the community keep things more or less on track ...

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Settling ...

Organism takes a while to adjust to quick trip from Tavira, short night at hotel, wet weather, house knocked about and awaiting completion ... more settled after early discovery of 1973 book by John Blofeld: "the secret and sublime -Taoist Mysteries and Magic" ... bus trip to visit old friend in new home with extra care ... on the bus a long and deep conversation with friend working with major life issues ... at the very well designed care home an interesting example of systems failure as friend, diagnosed with Alzheimer's, books patient transport for appointment next week, runs through a series of questions to ascertain eligibility, falls foul of one and is denied transport ... swiftly corrected by subsequent call to appeals line and more compassionate person ... all driven by financial targets to reduce costs of a service, part of the whole systems redesign offered a decade ago and declined by powers that be ... for vulnerable callers the very first interaction with officialdom sets up a series of hurdles ... press 1 for this, 2 for that and so on ... a personal interest must be declared and how it works in the parallel universe where new ideas are welcomed and international best practice valued is so far unknown ... the veil between worlds still operating effectively ...

Third encounter with Stanhope elder, booked for Community Christmas event, fills afternoon, before shopping, and more energy exchange ... local shops being of a different nature than soulless superstores ... and home to cosy upstairs room ... whilst sitting room downstairs remains a building site ... soul having more or less caught up with flying body ... Sun having shown his face for an hour two also ...

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Weird Dale again ...

Budget hotel at airport offers simple comfort, though restricted free WiFi is a surprise after so many different hostels and hotels round Portugal and Spain, including many pilgrim albergues, offering it free ... perhaps a false economy? Anyway, there is tea, coffee and a kettle, plus a telly for a rare  excursion to BBC morning "news" ... whilst Greggs at airport offers budget porridge and juice breakfast, change for the Metro and a train to the Toon ... a damp wander aroond, absorbing the shiny Christmas offerings early enough to avoid excessive shoppers ... and express bus to Durham, free for old people after 9.30, offers table and free internet ... HM UK Government, much criticised for EU shambles, continues with pensioner perks for now, even winter fuel allowance enabling escape to warmer climes ... though southerly winds today bring mid-teen temperatures along with the rain ... plus progressive looking publicity warning against hate crime, with named victim groups including transgender folks, a minority group in the news ... leading to some musing whether hormones in food and water might be blurring binary gender identity ...

Wander through Durham reveals exhibition of illustrations from Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass ... alternative realities nailing many absurdities of current consensus realities ... onward bus to Crook sees weather become misty ... mind, however, is undisturbed ... for now ... house awaiting work, but liveable ... mostly upstairs ... fingers crossed for woodburner installation before colder weather arrives ...

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Dental Holiday ...

These six weeks in and around Tavira have been framed by dentistry ... completed this morning and feeling fine ... of course trips to Seville and Cordoba, over to Aljezur and the damp Coastal Caminho from Vila de Conde have filled out the frame ... itself open ended and return flight only booked yesterday. .. people ask if implants are cheaper in Portugal and maybe they are, but the relationships forged with Joaquim, Ana, Humberto and Andrea count for more ... it seems India is cheaper and well qualified dentists available , even dental package holidays, as in Poland and Hungary. .. money, with its toxic nature, is better seen as secondary ... after all, Ryanair fly cheap and treat their customers with scant respect ... buying their product only encourages them and gives away what little power we have ...

Boulangerie breakfast with Diana, followed by sunrise wander to the castle and second breakfast at the castle, farewells to Osvaldo, Peter and Daryll, hello and goodbye to Valerie, another Canadian, neither of them aware of their famous compatriot Jordan Peterson, then post-dental train trip to famous fishing village of Fuseta for vegetarian lunch at Green Spirit, closed on Tuesdays, so fish it is after all in the spirit of vague'un ism ... friendly couple seeming to enjoy their work and looking forward to next month off ...

Faro train arrives in good time for a walk the 4 km to the airport, quiet off season and routine humiliation of customers at security check is low key ... followed by weird wander through Duty Free, full of bright lights and shiny things we can buy to make us feel better ... disturbing image of ancient pop star with a street in Albufeira named after him adds to the surreality ...

Light and sometimes trite book by Pete McCarthy rewards persistence with observations of corrupting influence of too much tourism ... insight on demise of Once True Faith and rather cruel lampooning of various nationalities ... all set in the booming Ireland of twenty years ago ...

Flight uneventful, arrival in Newcastle a little cooler than Faro ... late arrival means airport hotel and all day to find Stanhope tomorrow ... good to be home ...

Monday, 26 November 2018

Barill circuit ...

Possibly the last full day in Tavira and Portugal, though no flight is booked ... dental deadline tomorrow sometime, but still not clear if the Faro flight is doable in the evening ... anyway, the Sun is shining which opens the possibilities somehow ... even a swift Primitivo is considered while the weather holds fair ... today though its the ferry to the Island and walk along the beach to Barrill ... an hour on firm sand and mostly solo ... a brief chat on the road to Quatro Aguas with a Dutch woman living near Glasgow, having been recruited 14 years ago by IBM who needed multilingual staff, not easily found amongst the Brits ... her future next year still unclear, like thousands of other displaced folks across Europe ...

Holidaying businessman investigates market for mini tubs of sun lotion in hotel bathrooms to go with the soap, shower gel, conditioner and in the case of the Vigo Motel and maybe other establishments, complimentary condoms ... the context is his previous business, tanning salons, the overuse of which left his wife with skin cancer ... allegedly ... having sold up and got out of such a dangerous enterprise, the possibility of potentially carcinogenic sunscreen and aftersun lotion being little improvement on the previous business is missed ... not to mention the environmental impact of even more plastic pods ... this tale is second hand but interesting and plausible nevertheless ..

Tavira still has plenty of tourists about ... English and French voices noted mostly, a coach load of Germans piling into a fish restaurant in Santa Luzia ...

At the hostel, Renee arrives, last seen some years ago and still living free ... Daryll from Toronto taking a break from painting film sets ... and finally confirmation that teeth should be finished after 10 am appointment ... flight booked, Newcastle tomorrow night, Stanhope Wednesday ...

Time to take up some neglected responsibilities ....

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Sunday Market ...

One of the things about travelling light is the liberation from buying stuff ... whether you want it or not, if it doesn't fit in the pack, you don't buy it ... Ecuadorian stall has the most attractive stuff, a poncho suggested ... but not practical ... Portuguese plant seller desists on hearing sad lack of land ... churro can be eaten on the go and Scouts cake bake provides some biscuits for the kitchen later ... otherwise all the stuff holds little interest and a wander into the village, while Peter finds his friend, still living nearby, locates a bar for coffee and blogging ...

Return via an elusive waterfall, found with the assistance of Adriano, pictured with Peter, then home for late lunch ...

Outliers is finished and passed on, since good books like to be read ... Gladwell's foray into contentious territory of cultural norms and their impact on success, however we define it ... as the descendant of Jamaican slaves he more easily examines the issues and digging into the questions from many angles reveals compelling evidence for projects and programmes to redress the disadvantages inherent in being born into a particular culture ...

Wear & Dao has played with national stereotypes along the Way and Gladwell's research confirms the validity of taking them seriously ... whilst recognising that transcending them is possible, though maybe acknowledging them and how they arise over generations is a pre-condition for that ... at the level of simple survival, the climate and terrain in which we find ourselves conditions the experience of creating shelter and finding food and water ... language and culture develop as layers on top of this, as stories about who we are ... until the stories stand and guide, assist or constrain us long after the basic survival questions have been solved ...  and interesting to reflect on deeply embedded tales of poverty maybe still driving economic growth through unreasonable fear of not having enough ... the wealthy looking up in envy rather than down with compassion and gratitude ... the poor stuck in poor patterns, even in the midst of wealthy countries ... the wealthy and not so wealthy meanwhile often stuck in toxic patterns of over consumption, leading at the macro-scale to threats to the very planet on which we currently live ...

Patience settles as Tuesday's dental deadline approaches without certainty of reaching Faro airport for Tuesday evening flight ... there are other destinations from Faro before next Tuesday, and other airports with flights to Newcastle too ... mainly Malaga ... having options relaxes the mind along with continuing warm weather and warm company ...

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Outliers

Malcolm Gladwell's book offers some interesting perspectives on success, though that word is quite narrowly defined ... money, fame and so on ... longevity gets a mention early on and Taoists seem keen on it too ... possibly overrated in an infinite and eternal universe, though these retirement years are a blessing, especially as good physical, mental and spiritual health continue ... anyway, fresh perspectives always welcome ....

David got on his bike yesterday, Oliver this morning ... Ivan quit his job in town and is considering a joint ownership business in Faro ... cloudy today with rain about, though legs ask for exercise and Vila Real is the 25 km target ... oncoming equestrians by golf club respond to cheery Bom Dia,  leading rider Portuguese chap with a smile and Bom Dia, second a young English woman with a confused murmur, third, her mother, with a hearty "You look happy!" Fabrica and Cacela Velha bypassed in favour of swift first half without a break and menu del dia at Manta Rota and Restaurante Finalmente ... during which a serious shower passes over in time for the beach hour to Monte Gordo, tough going since tide is just turning and hard sand not available ... in Vila Real the Rua Utopia briefly amuses, especially as it's a no through road ...1627 train reached in good time, more rain on return trip, mostly gone by Tavira ... legs feeling the decent day's walk ... a rest tomorrow, a trip to Santa Caterina Sunday market with Peter planned, his car enabling such inland venues. Weather permitting.

Friday, 23 November 2018

Forecasts

After yesterday's  rain, today was forecast cloudy, though brief early excursion to boulangerie for coffee and radical departure from usual pain au raisin in favour of brioche rhum et raisin reveals absence of clouds and subsequent trip to market suggests full Sun for a while ... indeed arms and legs request airing and sunning ... all the way to Fuseta ...

At Green Spirit Jennifer reveals plan to walk to Santiago from Viseu someday, though baby Mario and January holiday are constraints ... one day!

Vegetarian lunch with red wine and complimentary medronho, digestive she says, rewards morning exercise ... body grateful, though Buddhist precepts prohibit alcohol ... never mind, best not to identify too closely with prescribed forms, though as philosophies go, Buddhism appeals most maybe .... Peter interested too and now in possession of Ayya Khema book ....

Day one of recent Camino was undertaken without any reference to weather forecasts, indeed raingear was belatedly donned at door after noting conditions ... which were wet all the way ... still it was a challenge accepted and overcome ... the point being that weather forecasts, like news in general,  seem designed to instil fear and unnecessary caution  ...

Clouds at sunset help create some very interesting effects in the sky ... reflected in the water of the River Gilao ...

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Olhao

Ana at Ecodenta rather concerned that Olhao branch will be located ... allowing a couple of hours enables it ... not so difficult since it is next door to the huge 5 star Santa Marina Hotel ... still not sure what those two extra stars are for when the 3 star experience was already more than enough ... Buddhist study from Ayya Khema talks of frugality as a virtue to be cultivated ... simplicity, inferring a slight and maybe significant difference, preferred at Wear and Dao ... raising question about nuances available in various languages ... research shows even in letter/word/sentence type structures different languages have more or less words available ... so, how to communicate effectively or precisely when language is limited? Recognising that spoken and written language is of the mind and therefore limited anyway helps ... and that any description of the indescribable is only pointing to something mysterious, elusive, and not to be defined.

Stories follow from sentences, of course, and stories have the power to bring forth worlds ... ancient ones hang around too long, core truths buried in no longer relevant metaphor ... some old stories creating unhelpful current realities, at every level ... at Guernica the tragic bombing during the Civil War, so powerfully shown to the consensus reality then persisting as a message and warning from Picasso, lingers as a deep sadness across the whole town ... whilst in Portugal the sadness from centuries of economic emigration lingers in Fado form ... which is not to dismiss history or herstory, just to understand that new stories are needed if we want to create new realities ... philosopher-dentist Humberto concurs with some of it, though professional medical folks have to beware theories too heretical to current scientism ... and suggests prolonged top front teeth reconstruction may actually be completed next Tuesday ... exploration of Olhao constrained by rain ... warm rain though ... as thoughts turn to snow in Stanhope, message arrives advising of death of elder, a regular on Wheels to Meals trips .... planning for Community Christmas continues ... tale from Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers shows bonds of community main indicator of long and happy lives ... more important than diet, non-smoking and other familiar factors ...

Practical options for return open a little with possible lift share with Peter to Bilbao next Wednesday, though less efficient than direct Faro to Newcastle flight Tuesday night, still possible ... other Faro departures possible, as well as Newcastle via Malaga and others ... let's see!

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Hiatus and equanimity

Today's task is to await news from dentist on progress from lab ... which takes awhile and ends in news that work is not ready and trip to Olhao tomorrow best option to be completed by Tuesday ... meanwhile  Being Nobody Going Nowhere by Ayya Khema turns up at charity shop to reinforce teachings on patience, equanimity and so on ... and since a sunny 20 degrees in Tavira is helpful when Weardale has turned wintry, equanimity is hardly a challenge ...

At the hostel, Peter from Torquay, originally from Liverpool, who spent many years making fish and chips in Cornwall before retiring to Portugal, tells his story ... David from Exeter who worked for British Gas in Killingworth up Newcastle way before retiring tells his ... what with the Canadian couple it makes for an English speaking supper, with Oliver from Austria keeping up, Osvaldo smiling and needing some translation ...

Urge to fill next few days with trips diminishes and new book from charity shop adds to small library awaiting a reader ... warmth of Joana and Diana encourages staying put and latest room shift finds the best so far ... reserved for two nights at least...

Kurt Vonnegut wryly remarks on the importance of exercising the voice box regularly so that it works in case we have something useful to say one day ... balance of solitude and conversation available ... single room enables retreat if conversation becomes too much ...

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Island circuit ...

After early mooching at market and Joao's Juice Joint (delicious Diospirio smoothie take away to supplement usual fresh orange and treat Joana and Jordi), a trip to the shopping centre for a quicker drying t-shirt to supplement three cotton ones, and home made lunch with spinach and sweet potato, it's off to Quatro Aguas for the ferry to the Island which departs as the rain starts ... raingear on in time for deluge, luckily whilst shelter nearby, then on the firm sand heading west, to adjust the spine after yesterday's easterly cambered beach ... clouds clear and Sun returns for wonderful walk ... to Barril and Santa Luzia where coffee and cake await, along with older German couple expressing their hopes that we Brits change course on the divorce ... who knows, Theresa may, since she wanted to stay before; Jeremy more determined as lifelong leaver, though his mettle may be tested if opportunity suggests electoral advantage from staying ... he buckled under the Zionist onslaught after all ... intriguing political play, which is the point of course ... make it interesting to keep us in the game, young people fired up by Jeremy and John ... ignoring the charade the main threat to the corporate power really running things ...

Teeth tomorrow and mini-break from Thursday to Monday still open to options ...

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Fuseta, Vila Real ...

Yesterday's early coffee at boulangerie and further conversation with Diana including news of her passion for writing ... short story outline embargoed since publication possible after illustrator finished ... it's good though and another one is on its way addressing the  theme of teenage  addiction to smartphones ...

Forecast was for rain after some downpours in the night, but the sky looked promising after breakfast and a walk to Fuseta for lunch was risked, Sandy from British Columbia setting a fast pace and sharing story of her childhood in the Bahai Faith ... pavements indicated rain fell during lunch, but Sun returned for timely walk to the station and the train back to Tavira ... subsequent rain meant reading in the new room, now with ensuite ... WiFi enables other entertainment and embracing the relative luxury available in the hostel is noted ... booked until Wednesday's appointment and 6 day break after that still open to ideas ...

Claudio and Manu have teamed up for a train trip to Lagos, others have arrived, including two Sebastians, one French the other Austrian ...

Today looks better weather and a wander East towards Vila Real is the plan ... though no real enthusiasm for the full 25 km, which goes well enough, ignoring Johannes' warning not to use the footbridge outside town tilted at an angle after floods last year ... official cycle sign proposes diversion, though Johannes' ubiquitous yellow arrows still point towards the closed bridge ...

Before beautiful Casela Velha, arrows ignored for diversion to Fabrica and very expensive coffee in polystyrene cup ... a rather exclusive little spot and quiet. .. with promenade and beach shortcut to Casela Velha, a brief photo op for two American blokes and on to Manta Rota for the menu del dia before hitting the beach for an hour or so, since brief shower has passed over .... ebb tide offers firm sand all the way to Montegordo and straight sandy route to Vila Real having dodged yellow arrows in to Castro Marim as well as Eco Via blue lines diverting to roads for a while ... brisk pace ensures arrival at station in good time for a beer before 1627 train home ... relaxed approach without big target ends in decent distance after all, plus a new variant to the route ... familiar and off road route relaxes mind for deeper thoughts, brief break from familiar disrupts complacency  ...

Quieter at the hostel, Jordi from Barcelona here to research sustainable tourism for his masters thesis plus Osvaldo in the kitchen ...



Saturday, 17 November 2018

Tavira

After a long, deep sleep early Tavira ritual resumes at French Bakery nearby; good coffee and pain au raisin ... joined by Diana on her way in for the early shift ... conversation on perils of world for our children ... WiFi, smartphone addiction and so on ... then off to market for fresh vegetables for next couple of days as this chapter moves towards England again ... timing and route depending on imminent dentistry, already taking much longer than anticipated ...

Camino arises in discussion with Diana too ... her observation of different kinds of pilgrims passing through, claiming the 10% pilgrim discount, or in a recent case asking for a free bed ... which works in some church and private hostels along the Way, but not at the government run ones ... price already cheap enough ...

Interesting TED talk suggests poverty and intelligence are linked, but not in expected way ... sugar cane farmers in a research study demonstrated a 14% increase in IQ test scores in the harvest period, when they experienced abundance and a corresponding reduction as the year went on and they had reduced incomes until the next harvest. The speaker uses the results to argue for Basic Income, a system currently being promoted across usual political boundaries ... Poverty Thinking and Abundance Thinking an interesting and delicate topic to consider ... Basic Income looking like a useful tool towards an escape from extreme poverty and its knock-on effects ....

Exercise in patience continues dentally as extended wait enables catching up with world news according to FT Weekend, including very large glossy supplement called, without any sense of shame, How to Spend It! Christmas posing particular problems for folks who already have everything they want and lots they don't. ... the mag propping up the whole FT stable with huge profits from advertising ...

Friendly implantologist, between discussing Carl Sagan, reveals two more appointments required over ten more days ... and visit to charity shop unearths five more books for a bargain €1 ... and learning Portuguese online with local practice still an obvious and neglected opportunity ... a few more days in Tavira, then 6 day opportunity before next and hopefully final appointment ... city breaks not appealing ... let's see what arises ...

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Porto to Tavira ...

After a deep, albeit short, sleep in the quiet room without a view (unnecessary anyway since it was dark on arrival and dark on departure), it's across the road to the station in plenty of time to buy a ticket and board the 5.40 for Faro ... senior discount halves the price ... it remains to be seen whether such generosity survives the current divorce process ... or whether the process itself survives come to that ... or whether, as seems most likely, the discount applies to all senior citizens of whichever nation ...

Alfa delivers to Faro in comfort and at speed, through Coimbra, Lisbon, Alentejo, even awful Albufeira and since it is a sunny 21 degrees, Faro pleasant to wander, Tavira check-in after 4 p.m. a sunny spot is found for lunch after an on-board breakfast of average croissant and coffee ...vegetable soup, quiche and salad, a strawberry dessert, since the lunch menu is secondary to ice cream and other desserts here ... perfect ... Humberto, having relocated from his native Lisbon and reporting it rather overrun with tourists, hostels increasingly taking over the old central areas ... happening in Faro also ...

The 13.55 train to Tavira ends the two day, two bus, two train trip home from Finisterre ... home now having three locations: Stanhope, Tavira Pousada de Juventude and La Espiral ... as defined by people at each location saying so ... and after the freedom of the three years without a home it's all held lightly ... Stanhope calling now, the timing mostly dependent on dentists tomorrow as well as winter flight timetables ...

Meanwhile, at the hostel, new faces ... Remy from France, Claudio from Italy, Osvaldo from Argentina, Manu from Finland, Thierry from Belgium ... familiar faces, Diana and Joana from the staff,  Ivan still working at local restaurant ...



Fisterra to Porto ...

Since the frame created for this Camino was bounded by dental appointments, since early Santiago bus was skipped in favour of dawn walk to the lighthouse at the end of the earth, options include direct overnight bus from Santiago to Seville, later Porto bus, overnight there and early Faro train tomorrow, overnight in Santiago, first Porto bus in the morning, later train to Faro, last train to Tavira ... meanwhile, the 9.45 from Fisterra offers scenic route round coast, a local service for the well populated towns along the way ... the only priority to be in Santiago today to keep dental deadline Saturday ... though even that is negotiable and any perceived limits to freedom are self-imposed ... the frame itself having no inherent validity ... and while this human incarnation will end sometime, the organism is in fine form, feet happy to rest a while, mind turning towards Stanhope, the Camino Primitivo is in the probability field for next Spring ...

At familiar Hospedaria for lunch and potential bed, tardy research reveals 5pm bus for Porto and reasonable beds at Campanha Station, a few metro stops away ... though arrival late, even with extra hour for border crossing ... Seville night bus at 4 pm resisted, though tempted ... staying in Santiago possible after filling menu del dia, though it's not calling  ... whether seats are available on either bus, or bed at Hospederia (some kind of religious convention going on which may take up the accommodation) remains to be seen ... psyche moving towards Portugal ...

Wander through old town leads to U.S. evangelist day Albergue for some philosophy with Michael and Mark and by listening carefully some common ground is found ... Mark, retired police officer from Atlanta now works with trafficked refugee women ... biographical info on Mike undiscovered, apart from his current work in Santiago ... which takes us past Seville bus time and onto Porto bus plus hotel reservation near station for early options tomorrow ... late arrival in big city not favourite choice and a little security sought!

The bus and driver are Portuguese, the clock is set an hour behind and three nearby pilgrims are speaking Portuguese. .. time to tune into another language ..

At the bus station, nearby metro goes directly to Campanha and Hotel Poveiro is right there ... perfectly comfortable and once quite grand, with wide staircases ... the single star reflecting lack of lift perhaps ... owner cheers up once we speak French ... he spent 20 years working there, like so many of his generation ... a snack and beer at cafe offers night time station characters, though more sedate than other cities ... even the drunks are reserved ...

As for the morning, the first and fastest train is 5.40 ... let's see!

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Olveiroa to Fisterra

A good breakfast and out before dawn ... early in a clear sky and a well marked off road Way climbing .... an hour on and the first coffee, at Hospital with very friendly hostess is also the last opportunity for three hours, past the Muxia junction and past Denys and friends camping free in the woods and reporting on the amazing manifestation of two bananas when they were really hungry yesterday, their friends having gone ahead with the provisions ... Patrick nurses strained muscle, harder downhill than up, all the way to Corcubion and a coffee plus generous tortilla tapa ... leaving him there to do last stage solo ... some ritual planned for the finish ... last 15 tough enough, a small cerveza without tapa at beachside bar to maintain balance between bars working from the heart and those corrupted by the cash ... the opportunity being to resist reaction and work on melting hearts a little ... to elicit a smile at least, though at small beer place mother, having been consulted on price for the pilgrim, later launches into tirade against hapless son, the task perhaps too great today ...

At La Espiral Andrea is in charge, the others on siesta ... after shower it's off out for some food in a half-closed, off season Fisterra ... which turns out well .... while back at the Albergue Nil has arrived, joining an international cast of pilgrims from Mexico, Sweden ... plus Fatima and Simone, making supper ...

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Negreira to Olveiroa ...

After a bountiful breakfast it's out into a misty dawn on known route up through woods along sandy tracks as Way rises above the clouds and Sun appears in clear blue sky ... and since the day is just 34 km or 7 hours the pace is steady until Patrick appears ahead, stopping for a picture of the atmospheric scene ... seen before at the Hospederio, the cafe after Santiago, Cafe Imperial in Negreira and at breakfast at La Mezquita, this is the first engagement ... continuing to Olveiroa, since both have enjoyed solitude on different routes from Porto and are ready for sharing some philosophy ... he plays the Swiss banker role most untypically, if there is a typical type ... spent three years in London, tried other careers to escape the job, but found it's what he can do, so is going to do it as best he can ...

At Casa Loncho an integrated business offers cafeteria, albergue and pension ... a shared room almost halves the price and dodges the perils of bunk beds ... whilst discussion on authenticity of pilgrimages continues: onward baggage, taxis, beds or camping? Several young pilgrims today are sleeping out; the weather kind enough, if a little chilly ...

At supper, Nil, from Turkey, joins the table for more philosophy. .. another pilgrim embracing solitude and enjoying a little company ...

Monday, 12 November 2018

Santiago to Negreira ...

After a fast, wet coastal Camino Portugues, mostly solo, solitude continues in Santiago at the Hospederio ... not for lack of pilgrims, just lack of enthusiasm ... continued at the generous breakfast, enjoyed leisurely, since epic two day trip to Fisterra not desired this time ... feet don't need it and light insufficient for early starts and late finishes required ... early chat on road out with old German who walked from Roncesvalles, albeit with onward baggage lightening the load ... on past other pilgrims before first coffee stop nearly halfway to Negreira ... pace slow enough since 20 km is a half day walk and Negreira reached by 1.30 with only the briefest of showers and mostly sun. .. Anjana Albergue, first choice, is closed, so after good menu del dia at Cafe Imperial nearby Hostal Mezquita offers Albergue dorm or Pension room ... solo luxury is chosen, though not dear ... in any case the few pilgrims on the road and about town have not appeared here ...

Feet feeling happier after two short stages without getting wet ... 33 km needed tomorrow and forecast fine ... accommodation upside today - enough hot radiators to enable t-shirt, pants and socks to be washed and dried; downside, patchy internet ... and after yesterday's over indulgence with lunch and supper, tonight's meal is fruit - avocado, banana and kaki. ... all perfectly ripe ... breakfast included in the price tomorrow and early enough at 7 am to enable steady 8 hour walk with lunch break ... Olveiroa the target ...

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Padron to Santiago ...

Well, that's Porto via Vigo completed in 6 days ... or 5 and a half, since the Cathedral arrives before 1 pm and just after the first rain since Padron ... forecast looking better for Finisterre next week ...

At 11 am on 11th day of 11th month, one hundred years after the end of the war to end all wars, an old Englishman and a young German agree not to kill each other ... seems easy enough walking along the parallel universe of the pilgrims, where killing each other is not at all the norm .... the question is: what brings us to such an act, forbidden in most religions and discouraged in any civilised society? Poppy wars raging on FB offer a clue ... declining to wear the symbol, supposed to represent the blood of Flanders and the determination to abandon war, hijacked by patriots offended by pacifism ... white poppy option only playing the game ... better ignore it, honour the dead by living in peace ... righteous anger and identification with nations soon followed by drums of war ... and on an on it goes ...

Rainy Santiago full of souvenir shops tempting tired pilgrims sharing their stories ... touched by the trip in this parallel universe ... meanwhile feet request special attention, having suffered in wet shoes for too long ... Farmacia not short of Compeed ... and Spain and Portugal not short of Farmacias come to that ... drug distribution systems, like money distribution systems through ATMs, very efficient ... imagine the organisation of delivering fresh paper cash every day to millions of machines around the world ... as the Greeks discovered the system has its dark side, when the cash dispensers can be turned off by shady financial powers ...

Fisterra last walked in two days, but three is better when feet want some respite ... maybe a short 20 to Negreira tomorrow ...

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Pontevedra to Padron ...

Later start, waiting to see if radiator was coming on to dry some clothes ... getting critical when it rains all day and there's nowhere to dry stuff ... still, the room was warm enough and the neighbours not too noisy ... Plan A was to call in to Catro Canos just before Caldas, and try to get a service wash and dry whilst eating an early lunch ... day started dry and good breakfast nearby made up for skipped supper, then an hour before some rain ... another hour before first coffee and three Portuguese policemen walking from Porto ... another couple of hours to discover Catro Canos closed and on through Caldas with Plan B in mind ... laundromat in Padron, next to Hotel Rivera, from the Spring walk ... before which, a menu del dia along the way: first course tortilla, since Caldos Gallego has meat stock; second course huevos con patatas fritas y ensalada ... observant readers may notice both courses involving eggs and potatoes combined in different ways ... home made red wine counts as fruit and home made oruja, offered with the compliments of the maker, means a slower second stage through the woods ... without rain ...

In to a comfortable room by 5.30, a decent 40 km , leaving a gentle 25 for the morning ... clothes washed and dry, rain returns later,  but no need to go out ... bed, laundry, bar and restaurant all in one place ...

Friday, 9 November 2018

Vigo to Pontevedra ...

A shorter stage and rather wet .... starting with a surreal exit from motel room via the garage downstairs ... the whole service designed for car drivers ... it takes a while to walk through Vigo and out onto the Redondela road and light rain starts just before Redondela, turning heavy after Arcade all the way to Pontevedra ... pilgrim hostel has only upper bunk beds, declined for no good reason apart from desire for more comfort, eventually found through town at the Pension Santa Clara, last visited in Spring ... 36 km plenty, what with asphalt and rain ... a few pilgrims about, apart from those wilfully abandoned at the Pontevedra Albergue. ... Alain and Francoise, Belgian farmers on an adventure, having passed the farm to their daughter and set off walking on August 1st ... through France and to Santiago, now heading for Fatima ... a shared menu del dia at Arcade before the very wet walk over the hill to tonight's simple room, with thin walls and a Spanish couple talking quite loudly next door ...  Santiago possible tomorrow with an early start and epic effort, but two days better ... rain in the forecast until Monday ...

Thursday, 8 November 2018

A Guarda to Vigo ...

Extra early start, 6 a.m. .. two hours of pre-dawn walking before rain arrives, maybe 20 minutes off the path having missed an arrow and getting perilously close to rather large waves ... another hour to the first coffee and tortilla, second breakfast, since porridge was made at the Albergue around 5 a.m. early night and clock change confusing the issue ... another three hours plodding in rain, which desists before Baiona, the next coffee stop and rest for the legs ... about 30 k.m. done before lunch and a few more left in the legs before next bed is sought ... on to Ramallosa, target for today at around 40 km, but even after a late menu del dia, its still early to stop ... and skies clear for a while and Sun shows his face ... so, it's on to Vigo, though arriving as dusk arrives in such a big city, without a plan means first accommodation option is most gratefully accepted and turns out to be a motel, each room having en suite garage ... not to mention bath with plug, a special treat for feet and legs after their great effort ... maybe around 55 km and on the road over 12 hours in sunshine and showers ... mostly showers ...

Santiago is getting close now. .. 3 or 4 days perhaps ...

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Viana to A Guarda

Clothes and pack all dry after night on radiator ... organism well rested and awake early, no reports of problems from legs, feet or shoulders, after yesterday's efforts ... all ready to go for a slightly shorter day, to Spain by boat from Caminha ...

Sun emerges, though yesterday's persistent rain and similar forecast brings to mind story from the Iron Cross before Ponferrada ... the Master with the power to walk dry as rain fell all around ... like a psychic umbrella ... other less savoury aspects of his character brought into focus the problem with gurus, but the psychic brolly is something which may come in handy in the next few days .... something new to try anyway ...

Caminha takes a while, up and down, through forests on the authentic Way, with occasional views of the waves crashing to shore far below ... the alternative following the beach is further and faster. .. anyway chosen Way arrives at Caminha before 1, an hour for lunch at a rather nice restaurant with a view across the Minho, before the ferry for Spain leaves at 2, and adds an hour en route ... a short walk across to A Guarda, in Spain and to the Albergue with a few pilgrims ... notably Severio, a Professor of Anthropology from Rome, walking to Fatima, having already been from Lourdes to Santiago ... 3 months on the road so far ...

An early enough finish and a longer stage set up for the morning. .. and after today's sunshine some rain predicted. ..

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Vila de Conde to Viana do Castelo ...

Early start means first hour before breakfast brings Povoa de Varzim and four pilgrims before 8 ... the first yellow arrows to which peregrino persona is conditioned ... and breakfast ready for a possible long stage ... legs keen after yesterday's inaction ... light rain encourages plodding and contrast with heavy rain in Cordoba last week noted ... at the Cafe Sport de Fao, Luis creates a Camino arrow in the coffee ... enjoying the pilgrims, four more of whom arrive as this one leaves ... Augustine and his friends from Barcelona have been knocking off the routes for ten years ... aiming for Marinhas today whilst this pilgrim has Viana do Castelo in his sights ... looking possible after Marinhas lunch and on the road for another 20 km this afternoon ... first 30 covered swiftly on seaside boardwalks and promenade, cobbled back roads and sandy tracks before lunch break for an hour... second 20 tougher as route deserts coast and heads inland and up, through woods as rain falls harder before easing off ... last hour tough with more climbing before dropping down into Darque as the light was fading, then over the bridge in strong winds as street lights come on ... Pousada de Juventude easily found by the river, Christel kindly booking in and suggesting the 4 bed dorm may have only one pilgrim tonight ... helpful, since the radiator is adequate for one damp peregrino, but maybe not more ... her observation that she likes the rain, along with general sunny demeanour, suggests she knows the secret of liking what you cannot change ... she says the summer was crazy with pilgrims on this route ... certainly seems picking your season is important, as well as your route ... Augustine confirming Primitivo as his favourite ... maybe early Spring?

Reflecting on yesterday's train reading, Perfume by Patrick Suskind, read some years ago and picked from Tavira charity shop ... in novel form, it explores questions olfactory and the nature of evil, through its anti-hero, Grenouille ... the proposition being that everything has its signature scent if only our sense of smell was as acute as his ... and that he has no signature scent himself, suggesting the absence of vital essence, or soul ... meaning that he is virtually invisible to other humans and if he wants to project a persona he creates a perfume to wear ... reflections here that getting to know a woman better is quicker and more effective if they don't mask their natural odour with flowery scents ... a good sniff in the neck let's you know how well suited you may be ... though friends may observe such techniques have not produced long term partnerships recently ...

The epic 50 sets things up nicely for a Fisterra finish in a week ... let's hope La Espiral is open; FB says Simone has gone ... maybe a message to Fatima or just let it be for the sake of the surprise. .. and take the consequences ...

Monday, 5 November 2018

Tavira to ... Vila do Conde

Enforced delay leads to early morning philosophy with Arturo, previously known as Arthur in his Finchley childhood ...  travels in China, Nepal, India, plus psychoactive assisted trip to other worlds and teachings from Osho and a Tibetan Buddhist master brought him to the mountains of Majorca 35 years ago ... making a living as an artist and currently on a trip around Portugal seeking other perspectives ... drugs and gurus not quite sitting comfortably .... anyway, a strong connection and a grateful recipient for the hardback, too heavy, Peterson book ... not required or desired on the coming Camino ... a parting observation on literary reference points: Peterson strongly into the Bible, whilst Damasio suggests Shakespeare has all the stories covered ...

Arturo's bleak observation: Nobody's thinking about you, is considered ... perhaps better posed as a question: What if nobody's thinking about you? How we respond to the statement or the question, of course, is up to us ! It's linked to the subject of solitude, a practice necessary to pursue, though it's partner, loneliness, lurks along the way ... embracing both aspects enables the leap to putting the small self in its place and then reconnecting with other players in the multi-level dramas of Life ...

Since early Porto through train is missed, whilst waiting to see if escape from dental trials is feasible, plan B is afternoon slightly slower one, changing in Lisbon, leaving time for more pilgrim talk with Diana, who reports on a t.v. programme about the pilgrims and says she will walk the Way one day ... also that the Pousada de Juventude offers people similar opportunities to share ... as clearly illustrated on each visit ... bus option to Faro chosen over train, offering different perspective and longer journey time, arriving at bus station with 5 minute window for new bus option to Porto, though queue for tickets making it tight, and train preferred for comfort and speed, indeed senior discount offers first class comfort for a very reasonable €29.50 ...  and a wide enough window for vegan restaurant lunch ... recent thoughts and words lead to the necessary next step for authenticity - action ... two trains and a Porto Metro later it's Vila do Conde for the night, already one stage along the coastal route ... whether to head east for central route and Barcelos or head up the coast towards Viana do Castelo is a question for the morning ...

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Time and the twice yearly hint ....

As discussion turns to the case for and against moving clock time, it seems such activity is more than a national event ... giving rise to the suspicion that the whole thing is a huge hint that Time is a relative concept ... which is pretty mindblowing .... of course you can see for yourself, but put simply equatorial countries don't bother, but most of the rest do ... some last weekend, others this ... anyway, despite the use of the phrase "daylight savings time" obviously daylight is not actually caused by clocks but the Sun, which we mostly understand ...

Languages continue to fascinate ... their potential to explain and constrain ...their very structure leading to a fragmented view of the world ... and languages with letters forming words, which themselves form sentences in linear progression must lead to an ordering of the world(s) ... other spoken and written languages use ideograms, producing a different kind of ordering .... music conveys other ways, whilst the most accurate language, mathematics, it is  said, gets closest to what's really going on .... always a mystery here, but Hugh Everett's equation unifying Newtonian and Quantum worlds worked, as long as an infinity of parallel universes was allowed ... the implications are astounding, but the idea never really took off ... except in Wear and Dao of course ...

Meanwhile, the two week walking window closes a bit, in case a visit to the dentist is required tomorrow, to ensure the lab has all they need ... after that a trip to Porto, or just beyond and a swift walk to Santiago and on to Fisterra for a birthday reunion at La Espiral ... not that birthdays are much noted, but it's a frame for a game, which inspired legs this morning on three hour trip to Fuseta and lunch at the vegetarian restaurant there ...

Saturday, 3 November 2018

4th Anniversary of Freedom Fantasy ...

FB, serving as memory of such things, sends tacky reminder of this day four years ago when the free life began with a train  trip to Winchester and a few days at Brockwood to clear the mind ... free from house, car and anything else that wouldn't fit in the rucksack ... which was still too much for comfortable carrying across the Pyrenees ...

Since today is hopefully the final fitting of new denture-free arrangement, thoughts turn to a Camino, reflecting on approaching winter ..though such thoughts were absent then and the month long first Camino from Urdos and Jaca via the French Way at Puente la Reina started after two weeks' wandering in England and France ... perhaps the base at Railway Terrace, undergoing some renovations, is acting as cage to entice feckless pensioner? Some mental work required to free up the next stage after the recent exercise in patience ... nearly a month to complete the vanity project ... a short break to the West coast, another to Spain ... all part of life, for sure, but the parallel universe of the pilgrims pulls more, as well as the cosy retreat in Stanhope (cosy when the works are complete!) with the opportunities to be useful in the community ...

Breakfast conversation with retired research immunologist Danielle, from France, reveals her finding retirement rather tiresome after ten years, while later, deeper discussion with Beth, from the U.S. not yet retired, but living the free life anyway, having completed the South West Coast Path recently ... the Appalachian Trail a while ago, and seeking trails in Portugal, as well as meaning in life ...

Fitting session with Humberto ends with further problems, a return later today and likely two week delay as apparatus returns to lab ... offering Porto Camino window with return to Tavira, then Faro flight, rather than planned Santander ferry ... and as promised the reference for Self Comes to Mind and other books by Antonio Damasio ... some videos to check and books to order. ..

Friday, 2 November 2018

Guillena, Seville, Tavira ...

Ruben heads off to Santiago, Mariana to Salamanca, Mattheus to Caceres. .. though all to Castilblanco and its closed Albergue today ... 18 km and nothing in between, next stage, Almaden, rather long to add on ... part-time pilgrim takes the 9 am bus back to Seville, declining the 4 hour walk on and risky bus return .... Tavira bus booked for 4.15 ... back to Portugal after Andalusian excursion ...

Seville central heaving with tourists ... large groups wandering about, standing by latest church or other building of interest while tour guide explains ... rentabikes enjoy cyclepath infrastructure, when not clogged with pedestrians and venture onto pavements too ...narrow streets,  souvenirs, an escape into an empty cafe, where the coffee is served in a polystyrene cup ... quite unusual, though in its defence the place is also selling ice cream and pastries to take away ... still €1.40 is steep, reflecting the first rule of price, what the market will bear, and if the market does not rely on return trade the price will be high ....

Escape across the river to Triana restores some sanity ... still touristy but less so and lunch reveals a vegetarian waiter to negotiate the €8 menu del dia. .. leaving the bus station easily reachable ...

Meanwhile, Ruben's verdict on his favourite Camino  opens another option ... the Primitivo across the mountains from Oviedo ... hmmm ...

Back in Tavira, the lost hour is recovered, dentist confirms midday appointment tomorrow, meaning Sunday for trip north and next Camino on Monday .... maybe ...

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Triana to Guillena ...

A 6 bed room without external window, the one to reception shut to secure quiet over oxygen, meant a stuffy night ... early start for Guillena meant Castilblanco possible as last Spring, though wet road diversion slowed progress and warm reception at Albergue Luz de Camino and sunny day curtails further wandering ... another stage possible tomorrow before bus back to Seville and on to Tavira ready for final dentistry ... Pilar modelling the best kind of hospitalera. .. enjoying the company of the international cast of pilgrims, though only one so far today ... Mariana, from Slovenia arrives later, having taken alternative diversion ...aiming for Salamanca ... then Ruben, from Galicia ... Matteus from Germany ... 

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Cordoba to Triana ...

Summer in Cordoba is mostly hot and dry ... Autumn this year cool and wet and yesterday's soaking was more than enough ... city tourism not really optimal activity in any weather and the old streets of Cordoba are fine tuned for parting visitors from their cash in a friendly manner ... late afternoon and evening spent drying out and browsing online philosophy and avoiding further excursions ...
First bus to Seville shifts the focus, clouds clear and options open ... first being a late breakfast since supper skipped and only time for a coffee solo at the bus station ... however, breakfast choice a little close to Bus Station to escape cynical exploitation of gullible tourist, watered down orange juice, yesterday's croissant and cafe con leche for a fiver ... the money not the issue, it's the game that feels tawdry ... wandering on and drawn across the river to Triana, with a more authentic feel and a wonderful covered market ... and Triana Backpackers' Hostel has a bed in a dorm for tonight ... second breakfast nearby with churros feels better, some fresh fruit from the market for later .... whilst tapas lunch looks and tastes great. .. ideas for hummus of many colours ... rain, absent for first part of the day returns for a while ... forecast looking better and a one day return to Via de la Plata in the field of possibilities ...

Musing on last evening's entertainment from Nietzsche, Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Alan Watts and Robert Anton Wilson ... and the problems inherent in incremental improvements in systems fundamentally flawed ... organised religion generally, Christianity specifically. .. or put another way, doing the wrong thing righter goes nowhere, better do the right thing poorly and improve that ... perhaps pointing to a truth beyond all attempts to describe it, but which may be glimpsed as we live our authentic lives as best we can, simply, compassionately, patiently ...

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Cordoba ...

Plenty of people and philosophy to process since the last post ... and plenty of opportunity to catch up since it is raining in Cordoba and its undoubted charms are limited without the Sun ... dodging locals and their umbrellas, themselves dodging packs of sodden tourists each armed with their own umbrellas an art in itself, let alone locating dry places of interest to shelter and learn some of the rich history ... the compact single room in the simple hostal, not to be confused with hostel, offers dry base with WiFi between cultural expeditions ... the challenges and opportunities of new roommates each night, new companions in the kitchen, which is hostel life, exchanged for the privacy and peace of the single room and less convivial company ...

In Tavira information gleaned, briefly, from young Mexican student of molecular biology, based in Germany, and older statistician from Brazil, working in the government, observing recent political developments with interest, noting economic record of recent left wing administrations as poor to say the least ... and pointing out the deeper problems worldwide of widening gap between contributors to pensions and social support and those requiring them ... a fundamental issue needing radical solutions maybe transcending traditional left-right polarities ... accelerating automation exacerbating the problem, global warming and current economic need for ever expanding growth on a finite planet insisting on more than incremental change ... 

... whilst Paloma, from Madrid, offers serious challenge to Spanish speaking, since she has next to no English and a walking trip to Fuseta, followed yesterday by a bus trip to Seville, lunch there and onward train to Cordoba pushes linguistic skills to the limit, albeit assisted by smartphone translate function ... 

Of course, plenty of folks are working on answers to the big questions and young people will do it, when not hypnotised by the dross possible from smartphones, the current brainwashing medium meaning the limited exposure of plugged in televisions are supplemented by always-on opportunities ... whether to make us smarter or stupider our choice perhaps ... recognising the shift to simpler lives essential for individual sanity and thereby saner societies ... less being more and more less ... the perverse power of the super-rich undermined by a populace no longer looking upwards for more stuff but sideways for mutuality ... contemporary communications pointing to this anyway: when we can talk with anyone, anywhere, anytime about anything, vertical hierarchies dissolve, held together temporarily by old structures ... disruptive economic forms are already at it ... liftshare and bla bla car, couchsurfing and airbnb, helpx and workaway, peer to peer funding platforms ... blockchain with its distributed technology to undermine the attempt of older forms to hang on ... 

Now for some damp exploration ...

Friday, 26 October 2018

Examining the Rules ...

Since the stay in Tavira is extended, away from the library in Stanhope, since the hardback copy of Peterson's 12 Rules for Life is stimulating the mind, and since such books are not so easy to come by here, a re-reading is in order, this time examining more closely some of the author's propositions, to see if they fit the evolving delusion which is the world view of Wear and Dao ... and noting some resistance to two elements apparently paradoxical which want some investigation ... tricky, since limited academic intelligence is rather in awe of the author's command of many fields of knowledge ... nevertheless ...

Rule 1, citing the research on dominance hierarchies and deeply entrenched behaviours of humans, particularly the males of maybe all sentient species, suggests the importance of greeting the world with our shoulders back and projecting a confident image. Nothing wrong with that, though there is an assumption along the way that pecking orders, the success of the strongest, is immutable in humanity, the most ancient parts of the brain being hard-wired for aggression. .. wiring, however, as suggested by research appears to be an ongoing process, summed up in the pithy "what fires, wires", proposes that thoughts, speech and especially experience, create new neural pathways and thus literally change our brain ... not necessarily totally changing our mind, since it is not clear to what extent brain and mind interact, but anyway offering hope that progress is possible, despite the distressing ongoing wars and consequent suffering ... indeed data on violence quite clearly demonstrates its steady decline over time ... raising doubts over Peterson's rather pessimistic view ... which lurches from biological determinism to Biblical Mythology, with credence offered to creation myths from Genesis ... stories have power and maybe the world is only a collection of stories, but maybe also they may confuse the issue, since humans have this tendency to confuse the Word with the thing described ...

Rainy day starts with conversation with Diana, who works at the hostel, previous resident of England, born there of Portuguese parents, and offering helpful insights to the relationship between the two nationalities ... later, longer dialogue with Peter dives deep into fundamental questions, his perspective being from his career in the Dutch Civil Service at quite high level, belied by his holiday persona as hostel dweller and ardent photographer of flamingos and other bird life so abundant in the salt pans hereabouts. ...

Evening philosophy session continues over hostel supper, with Amelie, 24 year old teacher from Paris adding French, female and youth perspective ... coincidentally the actress in the charming film of that name, Audrey Tatou, came from the same small village near Clermont - Ferrand as our young philosopher ...

Later in Room 103, Franz arrives, disclosing at breakfast this morning that he is cycling from Lisbon to Munich, having previously covered the Nordcap to Lisbon stage ... not a bad way for a retired civil engineer to pass the time ....

At the flea market, Transition Town Tavira have a small stall, offering a few second hand items priced in the local currency, the Tav ... confusing a local Portuguese chap trying to buy a clock with his euros ... alternative currencies perhaps requiring a period of transition too? The project is run by settlers from Northern Europe, and engagement with longer term residents looking necessary ...

In another coincidence,  Federico, pictured in Wear and Dao on the walk from Guimarres to Amarante in November 2016, turns out to be a cousin of Ivan, roommate in 103 ... latest instagram pic shows swollen face due to drugs taken to treat an illness, but it's him alright ...

Meanwhile, at the penultimate visit to the dentist, Humberto, itinerant implatologist, turns out to be a philosopher ... referencing a Portuguese  scientist who proposes each cell of the body has its own consciousness and therefore intelligence and concluding that Descartes had it wrong when he said: I think, therefore I am ... more likely the exact opposite ... further research required!

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Hostel people

One of the benefits of hostel living, as well as the low cost, is the opportunity to meet interesting folks from around the world ... as previously observed ... the picture shows Peter from Holland and Jens and Reena from Germany ... the latter leaving today for Lisbon and the night train to Hendaye ... and an early bout of philosophy delays this morning's walk, though there was no firm plan ... Jens seeking something, having identified the adoption of his father's successful plant nursery business as a problem ... the creation of the father not meeting the existential needs of the son ... a common enough problem though no less painful for that ... anyway, a warm connection and maybe to be continued ...

Last night James arrived in Room 103 from Alvor and Atlanta, Georgia via Chicago ... seeking respite from Trumpistan .... a long conversation continues this morning over pastries at the French bakery before he heads for Santo Antonio and a trip to Ayamonte on the ferry across the Guidiana ... Bernardo vacated his bunk after missing out in the qualifying round, whilst Thomas moves to a double room as he progresses, a solid night's sleep helpful for peak performance ... Ivan, Spanish chef working the dreaded split shifts, continues as longer term roommate as he sorts out finances for winter let of nearby apartment ... with pool ...

This morning's later start means a rerun of the circular walk to Barril (previously misspelled Barill) and back along the beach ... slightly cooler today as Sun hides a little behind thin cloud ... reconciled to a minimum of 10 days before teeth completion and settling in Tavira until next appointment Saturday, then maybe a new adventure for a week before, hopefully, final fitting ... and a quick Camino. ..

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Uncommon Sense

One of the fundamental problems with understanding reality is the idea of common sense, or more accurately, consensus reality ... anthropology having amply demonstrated how common sense varies quite widely across cultures ... and historians have shown the same across time ...

Looking closer at the senses through which commonly accepted realities are constructed, another problem arises, since there is often an erroneous assumption that we see through the eyes, hear through the ears, smell through the nose, taste through the tongue and feel through the fingers and the skin in general ... leaving aside for now the oft experienced sixth sense, the information from those five receptors is only energy at a certain frequency, which is interpreted in different parts of the brain and matched up with already established patterns to create some kind of common sense story ... and, returning to recent posts, the mind seeks security, which is what we know, more or less ... order rather than the alternative, chaos .... of course this only works for a while, since we are much more than we know, maybe infinitely so .... then comes existential angst, since the soul, for want of a better word, insists on the infinite or at least moving towards it .... consensus reality, or our conditioned reality, increasingly aligned with the story of stuff, Samsara, the hell realm promoted through the brainwashing techniques of television, radio, "news"papers ... has to be challenged, putting us at odds with family, friends and peers still operating there, albeit often numbed by illegal and prescription drugs, alcohol and so on ... solitude, of course, is an opportunity to investigate without censure ... avoiding the hypnotic agents of television, radio, newspapers and social media helps too ... less is more ... and beyond that, nothing is everything, more or less ...

Today's routine, what with 4.30 dental appointment and sunny weather forecast, takes in early coffee and pastry at the French bakery near the hostel ... opening at 7 am, rather than hostel 8.30 breakfast, coffee excellent rather than mediocre hostel coffee ... not to sound ungrateful for the warm, welcoming hostel staff, of course!  Walk to Santa Luzia and Barill beach means firm sand for low tide walk towards Tavira and ferry, after an hour or so of Sun and a couple of dips in the sea, very energising in the waves ... time for a shower and change before lunch at nearby vegetarian restaurant as the day heats up to near summer temperatures ... offering a vision of Coimbra to Santiago in the Sun. .. Spring walk rather wet ...

Trains and lodgings await outcome of dentistry.... just as well, since visit reveals laboratory has not delivered the work and completion is postponed until Saturday at least. Still, there are worse places to wait than Tavira and the virtue of Patience can only benefit from further practice. ... 

Monday, 22 October 2018

Rules, Routines, Rituals ...

Treading the edge between Order and Chaos, the 3 Rs reside in Order, there to offer a frame to live a Life ... well the first two do anyway, Ritual begins to help us approach the numinous, the mysterious beauty of Chaos and too often settles into form, losing its point along the way ... sometimes called organised religion. .. words, of course, have a Power of their own, and Chaos, the word, is rarely used in English as a good thing ... the English language being a highly evolved structure to explain and call into form all sorts of wonders ... its ubiquity evidence of its power, not to mention the serious limitations it imposes on lazy native speakers ... since the language(s) we employ to experience the world(s) determine our perceptions of it/them ... form is everything to a culture conditioned to measure the parts as if the world(s) were nothing except the sums of the parts .... chaos may also stand for the zero point field, the infinite sea of energy, awaiting the calling into form of the inherent potential ... the unfolding of the Implicate Order pointed to by David Bohm ... perhaps ... meanwhile, languages lure us into thinking in bits when it promotes nouns over verbs and ends sentences with full stops ...

Routines are helpful to create some seemingly solid ground from which to operate, especially when they are self-imposed and occasionally broken ... Camino routine is very simple: rise early, walk, rest, eat, write a little, walk, find a bed, sleep ... and process ideas as and when the opportunity arises, which is mostly in the albergues. ...

Rules are trickier, implying something fixed, eternal, outwardly imposed ... possibly created to stave off chaos, as if that might be a good thing ... or even possible ...  which means a book so full of insight, embracing the Tao, nodding to the limits of thought, as The 12 Rules for Life, along with its equally paradoxical subtitle: An Antidote to Chaos, had the front page created tongue in cheek to say the least ... though Jordan Peterson is unlikely to say the least, when another anecdote from his life experience or learned reference from ancient wisdom and mythology is available ...

These Tavira days struggle for routine, as dorm life has its own constraints ... walking for its own sake and as training for coming Caminos, fits the bill ... the circuit to Barril and back along the beach, yesterday to Fuseta, lunch at Green Spirit vegetarian restaurant, train back, today train to Vila Real lunch at Green Buddha there, walk back to Casela for train .... Green Buddha rather trendy, healthy eating focus, light pop on the sound system, chicken on the menu ... Buddha being rather in vogue these days, and why not? The serene smile conveys contentment, suffering having ceased ... who wouldn't wish for that?

Teeth tomorrow ... maybe some sunning and swimming before that ... this afternoon's late running train leads to thoughts of Faro tomorrow evening, since connection times for Coimbra 7 am departure are very tight ... not to mention very early train from Tavira ... let's see !

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Keep moving

After Friday's expedition to Vila Real, yesterday was more restful ... mooching around town, a short stroll to Santa Luzia ... partly moving the body, partly seeking convivial spots to study the 12 Rules for Life ... all very entertaining and instructive, though quiet and comfortable spots are not so easy to find ... dorm residents have their own rhythm and cleaners too ...

Spectacular thunder passes in the night ... forecast suggests more today, though no sign so far ... early walk to Santa Luzia, a chapter to consider, along to Barril, and back along the beach in warm sunshine, fresh breeze, one or two dark clouds wondering whether to turn rainy, the ferry back to Quatro Aguas and lunch at an Indian restaurant, one of many in town ...

Jordan Peterson's Rules are quite quirky, hooks for essays really ... Rule 8 is clear enough: Tell the Truth - or at least don't Lie ... leading to this insightful passage, quoted at length for your consideration: "If you will not reveal yourself to others, you cannot reveal yourself to yourself. That does not only mean that you suppress who you are, although it also means that. It means that so much of what you could be will never be forced by necessity to come forward. This is a biological truth, as well as a conceptual truth. When you explore boldly, when you voluntarily confronypt the unknown, you gather information and build your renewed self out of that information. That is the conceptual element. However, researchers have recently discovered that new genes in the central nervous system turn themselves on when an organism is placed (or places itself) in a new situation. These genes code for new proteins. These proteins sre the building blocks for new structures in the brain. This means that a lot of you is still nascent, in the most physical of senses, and will not be called forth by stasis. You have to say something, go somewhere and do things to get turned on. And, if not ... you remain incomplete, and life is too hard for anyone incomplete."
There is no citation for the research, though the writer is otherwise assiduous in this matter ...

Thanks for filling the blog space with such inspiring information ... hopefully copyright infringement will be overlooked this time. It seems highly improbable that JP or any of his friends are reading Wear and Dao anyway ...

As for the dorm, Ivan has found a winter let to give him more privacy ... Bernardo and Thomas, the Portuguese chaps are here for a tennis tournament and very considerate ...


Friday, 19 October 2018

Wandering to Vila Real ...

Yesterday's idea was to take the train to Vila Real de Santa Antonio and walk back ... legs this morning had other ideas and set off through the salt pans, following Johannes' yellow arrows ... his enthusiasm for reviving the Eastern Portugal Way to Santiago still evident ... helpful as far as the beautifully restored Cacela Velha and the first coffee ... and on to the more touristy Vila Nova de Cacela, where the beach calls along with an empty restaurant with a friendly owner and a €10 lunchtime special, soup, main course, dessert and a glass of wine .... and a chance to check the route to Vila Real avoiding the yellow arrows to Castro Marim. .. all good training and organism in good shape, slight twinge in left foot arch noted, but settles, other parts fine, including energy levels ... 25 km a decent stroll in warm sunshine ...

Visit to local shopping centre bookshop turns up just three English language titles, two of them Harry Potter stories ... the third is Jordan Peterson's "12 Rules for Life" in hardback, far to heavy for pilgrim walking, but ideal for study in the days left until final dentistry ... helpful to read him rather than try to keep up with his fast paced intellectual delivery ... a chance to examine some of his premises at leisure ... still, he is quite convincing and well worth the effort ...addressing the question considered a few blogs back on chaostability, offering some much needed depth to that post ... references to the Tao already endearing him, despite his rightist reputation ... not really deserved upon examination, just that he takes to task self-proclaimed leftists and their dubious ideas ... the left-right frame perhaps the problem ...better to step out of such limiting labels ...

Current cast of room mates changes, with Ivan, Spanish chef, the only constant. Two rather loud Brazilians are followed by two Indian brothers, trying to be quiet and considerate, though some very loud nocturnal farting indicates variation from norms of dorms ... tonight's Portuguese guests have yet to turn up ... let's see!